OBX Sea Turtles (2015) – Nest #5

OBX Sea Turtles (2015) – Nest #5

Finally excavation day came for Nest #5. We were all eager to see what the nest had to tell us. We usually open a nest before dark so we can see what we are doing. New NEST volunteers Nancy Kirkpatrick and Ann Ryan were awarded the honor of digging the nest.

They wore rubber gloves to protect themselves from any bacteria that might be in the nest, and to protect any live turtles that might still be in the nest. About 15 inches down, they found their first empty eggshells. Then, they found what we all hoped for—a live turtle. All of our new visitors, and the visitors that had missed the boil, were in for a loggerhead hatchling turtle show. When we find live turtles we put them in a tub and wait for dark to release them.

Leila Smith, a 7 year-old from New York and Joey Tucker, a 10 year-old from Richmond, Virginia, who have been very helpful at the turtle nest every night, were thrilled with the four little hatchlings . We waited until the birds left for the night. Also, other than the lights that lead the turtles astray, the biggest danger to our nests are the ghost crabs. They love to catch the little turtles, cut the tendons in the flippers to immobilize them, and then eat them.

We released the turtles just before the ghost crabs came out to feast. When the nest was completely empty, we had a total of 97 empty eggshells, eight undeveloped eggs, and one dead turtle. Four of the empty shells were from the four live turtles that we found in the nest. We all had witnessed 90 turtles on our nightly vigil. That means that only two turtles snuck out while we were not monitoring the nest. One of the four live ones did not appear very healthy and could not crawl all the way to the ocean. The other three crawled straight to the ocean the minute they were released.

In these reports, we like to show you the children participating in conservation. You are never too young to start learning about and practicing conservation. You are the ones who will inherit the Earth and it will be your responsibility to protect and preserve all of her creatures. These little hatchlings will be your responsibility when they return to these beaches in 30 years to lay their eggs. Just like Leila and Joey, watch over your world and work to make it an even better place than you found it. We are counting on you.

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